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Zimbabwe State-Owned Power Utility Staggering Under US$900 Million Debt

  • Gibbs Dube

ZESA Public Relations Manager Fullard Gwasira said ZESA’s financial position would improve if local consumers would cough up US$450 million in outstanding bills - but consumers accuse ZESA of overcharging

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Holdings Limited is technically insolvent given its debts amounting to some US$900 million, ZESA Chief Executive Josh Chifamba has told Parliament this week, complaining that consumers owe ZESA US$450 million.

Consumers have acccused the state-controlled utility of grossly overcharging them while failing to provide sufficient electricity to avoid chronic and long blackouts.

Chifamba told Parliament’s Committee on State Enterprises that ZESA faces serious operational problems for lack of money and qualified staff.

Debts include US$140 million owed to Southern African regional power utilities, he said, adding that ZESA requires some US$540 million to upgrade its infrastructure. But he noted that it was allocated just US$55 million in the 2011 national budget.

ZESA Public Relations Manager Fullard Gwasira said ZESA’s financial position would improve if local consumers would cough up US$450 million in outstanding bills.

“Consumers should pay for what they use in order for us to settle our debts and thereafter look for funding for capital projects,” said Gwasira.

Economic commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said ZESA should consider selling a majority stake to raise capital to upgrade and pay down its massive debts.

“Almost all [Zimbabwe's] parastatals are bankrupt and as such I think government should sell its majority shares in this company in order to generate money for capital projects and paying its huge debt,” Ngwenya told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube.

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